Losing mailbox keys is a common predicament that can be a major inconvenience. Fortunately, residential mailboxes typically don’t have high-security locks, making them relatively easy to open when you’re locked out. In this article, we’ll explore various methods to help you regain access to your mailbox without a key. However, please note that if your mailbox is owned and maintained by the United States Postal Service (USPS), attempting to break into it is a federal offense. Instead, contact your local post office for assistance in replacing the lock and obtaining a new mailbox key.
How to Open a Mailbox Without Your Key
Prying your mailbox door open is one of the quickest methods to regain access when you’ve lost your key. While it requires minimal skill, you’ll need a flathead screwdriver and a claw hammer. It’s important to exercise caution, especially if you have a thin metal mailbox, as prying can distort the metal and render the mailbox unusable. Here’s how to do it:
- Insert a flathead screwdriver into the gap between the mailbox door and the box near the keyhole.
- Carefully pry the door open without applying excessive force.
- Insert the claw of a hammer into the opening and remove the screwdriver.
- Use the hammer as a lever at the same height as the lock, applying quick force to open the door.
- If the lock doesn’t release, you may need more leverage, and in that case, try using a short crowbar.
Drilling through a locked mailbox is a straightforward process that requires a screwdriver, an electric drill with a new drill bit, and an extension cord. Choose a drill bit slightly larger than the keyway, and follow these steps:
- Remove the keyway dust cover to ensure a better fit for the drill bit.
- Create a dimple in the lock using a punch to prevent the drill bit from slipping.
- Drill straight through the lock, feeling for the lock pin as you penetrate it.
- Once you’ve drilled through to the other side of the lock, the tailpiece will have no resistance, allowing you to open the door without a key and replace the lock.
How to Break Into a Mailbox Without Damaging It
If your mailbox lock is non-rekeyable, a locksmith may need to drill out the lock and replace it with a new one. However, if you have a high-quality mailbox lock, a locksmith service may be able to create a new key and open the mailbox without damaging it.
Picking the Lock
Lock picking is a skill that can be employed to open a mailbox lock. You can use a lock picking kit or even craft your own tools using household items like bobby pins or paper clips. Here’s a simplified method:
- Create a tension wrench (lever) and a lock pick (a straightened bobby pin or paper clip).
- Insert the tension wrench into the bottom of the lock while holding the longer end between your fingers.
- Turn the tension wrench in the direction you would use a key to unlock the mailbox while applying pressure.
- Insert the lock pick above the tension wrench and locate the pins inside the lock barrel.
- Begin lifting the pins one by one until all pins are raised.
- With all pins lifted, the lever should turn the lock barrel, allowing you to open the mailbox.
If a pin becomes seized, wiggle the lock pick gently to free it.
Before attempting to open a mailbox without a key, remember that mailboxes are protected by federal law. Postal service employees and letter carriers do not carry keys for residential mailboxes and cannot replace lost keys. If you own and maintain your mailbox, you can break into it, but be aware that damaging it may result in mail delivery issues. Therefore, prompt repairs or replacements are advisable. Keeping duplicate keys for your mailbox is a smart way to avoid the hassle and expense of replacing keys, locks, or the entire mailbox